By Declan Carey
GREENLAND could become an independent nation within 10 to 15 years, a member of Danish Parliament told Redaction Politics.
Siumut party politician Aki-Matilda Høegh-Dam believes there is real appetite for change in the former Danish colony which voted in favour of home rule in 1979 granting autonomy to the island.
Greenland was recolonized by Denmark 300 years ago in 1721 but has a separate cultural identity and language to Denmark, although Danish is still used at universities.
Høegh-Dam told Redaction Politics: “We are a different culture from Denmark, a different people, language, way of living, and we tried historically to adapt to the Danish way.
“We have a Danish system at the moment which doesn’t work for most people. But it’s so much more than that, it’s about nation building, decolonising, independence is cultural but also a historical movement too.
“Denmark doesn’t know how to update the law because they don’t live here and they don’t know what is going on. Communication between the two countries is confusing, not just for us but for other countries internationally as well.
“In 300 years the Greenlandic shipping company has only been able to go to Denmark and back. When people tried to change that, a system of oppression said you can’t because you have to be connected to Denmark. Stuff like that has been virtually impossible to change.
“We have to be able to trade our own fish, we have to be able to have our own food administration here in Greenland, we have to be able to have new shipping routes so we can have groceries from other places, and a new shipping system. At the moment it doesn’t make sense.
“The current government is hesitant on moving forward with independence, but if the Siumut party’s new leader Erik Jensen becomes premier of Greenland, the process is going to begin again.
“It might be fast, in 10 to 15 years. But realistically, 30 to 40 years would be good. It depends who stays in power and if the government decides to prioritise it.”
Høegh-Dam comes from mixed Danish-Greenlandic heritage and grew up in Greenland speaking Greenlandic as her mother tongue.
There are around 57,000 people living in Greenland today, 88 per cent of whom are Inuit.
A statue of Hans Egede, a Danish-Norwegian coloniser, was attacked last year in Greenland’s capital Nuuk with red paint and the word ‘decolonize’ written on it in a sign that tensions were rising.
Director of Scandinavian Studies at University College London Professor Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen said: “Independence is something that simply lifts people up, it makes you care about your own place.
“Young Greenlanders find that they have been left behind in the sense that they have not had that full responsibility over their own country.
“They have not been able to make the changes that they want to make, or to make their country a healthy country and a country adjusted for a global world.”
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